Forestry & Land Use

Outdoor Recreation Environmental Impact Bond

Location: Athens, OH

Status: Active

Quantified Ventures is structuring an Outdoor Recreation Environmental Impact Bond to fund the Baileys Trail System. The Baileys Trail System is a proposed 88-mile, premier mountain biking trail system in Athens County, Ohio, on the Wayne National Forest. Through increased visitation, the trail system has the potential to diversify and strengthen Southeast Ohio’s economy. Private investment will provide the upfront cost of building the Baileys Trail System with repayment tied to the successful achievement of the economic development outcomes, in this case increased sales tax and transient guest taxes. The project is supported by the USDA Forest Service, National Forest Foundation, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities.


Problem

For centuries, Southeast Ohio has prospered from a wealth of natural resources, creating jobs and industries including timbering, brick mining, and coal mining. As market demand for extractive resources decline, however, economic forces have left Athens County as one of the poorest counties in Ohio. The Wayne National Forest in Athens County has miles of abandoned coal mines. Over 20 years ago, the community started to see these mines not as “scars” but as an underutilized asset. Together, the community and Wayne re-envisioned this mining terrain as a world class trail system that could drive visitation to Athens County. The community had a plan but did not have funding or access to capital.


Approach

The Baileys is a model of shared stewardship in outdoor recreation, providing recreation tourism opportunities that contribute to the ecological, social, and economic growth and sustainability of communities in Southeast Ohio. Our financial approach includes the creation of the first Outdoor Recreation Environmental Impact Bond, a financial structure that allows for communities to solve problems together, which is essential to this project that spans federal, county, and municipal ownership. As a result of our work, Athens County, the City of Athens, the City of Nelsonville, the Village of Chauncey, and York Township formed the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA) a regional Council of Governments to manage the cross-boundary infrastructure. The Outdoor Recreation Environmental Impact Bond enables these communities to fund, manage, promote, and evaluate large scale projects on federal land.


Impact

The Baileys Trail System presents an opportunity to revitalize one of the poorest and most underserved counties in Ohio. Mountain biking trails have been proven to produce health, environmental, financial, and social benefits for the communities in which they are built. The Baileys is poised to increase visitation and thereby increase spending in the region, resulting in increased earnings, jobs, and tax revenues. It has the potential to diversify and strengthen Southeast Ohio’s economy. The project will improve the connectivity of small villages to cities in Athens County and will increase access to outdoor recreation, improving health outcomes and regional pride.



Additional Materials

US Forest Service: Sustainable Recreation Infrastructure Pay-for-Success Feasibility Report (April 2018)

 

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